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The Leadership Secret

We are inadequate but God is not.

Then I said, “But Lord God, I don’t know how to speak. I am only a boy. “But the Lord said to me, “Don’t say, ‘I am only a boy.’ You must go everywhere I send you, and you must say everything I tell you to say. Don’t be afraid of anyone, because I am with you to protect you,” says the Lord.
- Jeremiah 1:6-8

In an age that is obsessed with strong leadership, it is hard to find someone willing to talk about leadership in an authentic, transparent way. When is the last time you heard a leader say any of the following statements?

  • I don’t know.
  • I’m not sure what I would do.
  • I think I am going to need some help.
  • I have some weaknesses.

Any sign of weakness means you are not a leader that is large and in charge. Asking for help means you are dependent on others, and you are a weak leader. We are taught to never admit that you don’t know something or don’t have an opinion, because if you do then you just might be called an, “inadequate leader.” If you are tagged with that moniker, then you might have discovered one of the greatest leadership secrets of all time.
I believe that secret to leadership is this: all great leaders have the awareness of their personal limitations and inadequacy. The Inadequate Leader realizes that he or she is not all powerful and doesn't have all the answers. The leader realizes that he or she has gaps, blind spots, wounds and problems. He or she doesn’t try to pretend to have it all together. 
Jeremiah gets it when he cries out to the Lord and says, “Lord, I am inadequate and I can’t do what You are asking.” He realizes that he is not capable of completing the task without help. But God reminds Jeremiah that nothing is impossible with God; He does not need our strength. He simply needs our availability, faith, and trust.
Here are three key characteristics of the Inadequate Leader:

  1. The Inadequate Leader has great self-awareness.
    Marshall Goldsmith, a leadership consultant and executive coach to Fortune 500 CEOs says, “A leader who is self-aware enough to know that he or she is not adept at everything is one who has taken the first step toward being a great leader.” A survey of 75 members of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council rated self-awareness as the most important capability for leaders to develop. When a leader knows his or her natural skills, strengths, and spiritual gifts, then the leader understands his or her leadership fingerprint, as well as weaknesses. Having self-awareness allows a leader to lead within his or her capabilities, be surrounded by others who have different strengths and rely on God to fill in the gaps. This is the first principle to being a great Inadequate Leader.
  2. The Inadequate Leader doesn’t hide weaknesses.
    Having self-awareness helps you to be candid and upfront about your weaknesses. It’s not thinking negatively about yourself, rather having a realistic self-appraisal. This allows you to stay in your lane, and it forces you to depend on others for help. Identified weaknesses are a powerful thing when you can embrace them and then rely on others. Lead with your strengths and lean on your weaknesses. Your weakness will be somebody else’s strength, and when you try to do it on your own, you are preventing someone else to lead with his or her strength. Be open about your weaknesses, because it empowers others.
  3. The Inadequate Leader realizes failure is inevitable without God’s intervention. Counting on others is one thing, but counting on God is a whole other thing. This last principle separates most great leaders from good leaders. F.B. Meyer wrote, “You never test the resources of God until you attempt the impossible.” An Inadequate Leader recognizes his or her desperate need of a Mighty God who is filled with bottomless grace. God loves to pour out His favor to the leaders who do not deserve it, and the ones remain broken and humble under the Mighty Hand of God. The Inadequate Leader knows that failure is at the doorstep every single day unless God steps in. The leader develops a sense of anticipation to see what God will do.

Yes, we are inadequate, but God is not. Trust Him. Leadership is a trust walk that forces us to completely rely on God providing every step of the way. Corrie ten Boom said, “When I try, I fail. When I trust, He succeeds.”  
Trusting Him,

Take Action:

  1. Have you ever considered inadequacy a key leadership trait? Why is that hard to embrace?
  2. Because of your weaknesses, how have you relied on others?
  3. Why is Corrie ten Boom’s quote the key?

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